SEATTLE, Wash. – Madshus skiers were hot on a cold day in Wisconsin, with Team Madshus athletes Juergen Uhl and Tore Martin Søbak-Gundersen winning overall victories in the Classic and Skate races at the 38th annual American Birkebeiner, held Saturday February 27, 2011. The victories carried special meaning for Uhl, who repeated as 54km Classic Champion, and Gundersen, who traveled from Lillehammer, home of the Norwegian Birkebeiner, to win the 50km Skate title in America’s most prestigious Nordic skiing competition.
The American Birkebeiner, now 38 years old, is North America’s largest ski race, with over 10,000 skiers in the various weeklong schedule of events. The race, along with the original Norwegian Birkebeiner race, honor the rescue of the infant Prince Haakon during Norway’s civil war in 1205 by the Birkebeiners, carrying the infant prince on skis through the mountains to safety. Haakon, one of history’s most popular Norwegian kings’ story is commemorated by the Birkebeiner races each year in Norway, USA and Canada.
Brisk temperatures set the tone for the race, -5 degrees Fahrenheit at the start in Telemark and just breaking 5 degrees at the finish in Hayward. The hard tracks made for a fast day on perfect tracks, in spite of the cold.
“It was a great day for skiing,” said Uhl. Holding position at or near the lead of the entire classic race, Uhl broke away for good at the 38km mark to win by one minute ahead of Karl Nygren, Minn., and repeat his 2010 Birkebeiner Classic victory.
Gundersen was part of the 12-skier lead group until 5km to go, building up an 18-second advantage along with Benoit Chauvet of France across Lake Hayward, then prevailing over Chauvet by one second with a powerful winning sprint on Hayward’s Main Street. Gundersen’s win capped off a dominating day for the Madshus team.
Juergen Uhl joins the Madshus team from Muehlenbach, Germany. The former NCAA Ski Champion is currently a graduate student at the University of Vermont and member of VTXC. Uhl races on Madshus Nanosonic Carbon Classic skis and Madshus Nano Classic Boots. Tore Martin Søbak-Gundersen, from Hamar, Norway, competes for the Madshus team and the Lillehammer Skiklub. Gundersen races on Madshus Nanosonic Carbon Skate skis.
“We are proud having both Juergen and Tore on Madshus,” said Peter Hale, Madshus Race Services director. “They’re popular winners here – their love for skiing, and their respect for this race really shows.”
The world’s oldest ski brand, Madshus’ Norwegian heritage dates back to 1906. From the original woodworking craftsmanship of its founder, to today’s state of the art production processes and materials, Madshus is the standard to which all other Nordic skis are held. Whether for World–Cup level racing, fitness skiing, cruising, metal-edge touring, or cross country downhill, Madshus continues to apply that same keen craftsman’s eye to each ski, boot and pole it produces. Over 100 years since it’s founding, Madshus’ storied commitment to the art and craft of ski making resonates today in the same consistent standard of excellence all performance Madshus skiers have come to expect.